The requirement that all members of staff holding the Level 3 Early Years Educator diploma must have at least C grades in GCSE maths and English to count in ratios at level 3 will lead to ‘catastrophic’ shortages, campaigners warn.

The warning comes as the government says literacy and numeracy skills are ‘essential’ for those working in early years.

Childcare providers must comply with strict staff: child ratios and the new rules mean that, although settings will still be able to hire staff without these GCSES, they won’t count in ratios at Level 3.

Campaigners have also warned that the delivery of the government’s 30 hour childcare pledge will come under threat because of the predicted shortage in qualified staff.  They want to see the government bring back functional skills as equivalent acceptable grades.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said that he did not believe early years staff needed GCSEs to show that they were literate and numerate:

“We simply cannot afford to be blocking smart, eager and passionate potential practitioners from joining the sector, just because they don’t have the right type of qualification.”

Conversely, a spokesman from the Department for Education said strong numeracy and literacy skills were essential for staff working with young children:

“That is why we introduced GCSE requirements for those early years staff working for ‘level three early years educator’ status. We are continuing to look at what more can be done to encourage talented staff to forge a career in the early years.”

Read more about the recruitment crisis here.

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